How the higher education industry is responding to Covid-19

How the higher education industry is responding to Covid-19

  • Faculty and staff are concerned about their future
  • Research projects have come to a halt
  • Admissions and recruitment of new faculty remains unsettled
  • Students have a whole lot of questions:
    • How will we be graded? 
    • Will we get any reimbursements?
    • Will we have a graduation ceremony?
    • How will this affect my scholarship?
    • Can I stay in the country if my visa is not valid anymore?
    • Could we take lessons from our hometowns?

In other words, there are still a whole lot of decisions that universities need to make and inform their stakeholders.

Integrated nerve centres

Many institutes are responding by creating an organization that provides a framework for making these decisions. Integrated nerve centres have proved to be extremely helpful in setting a course to follow through with businesses, public-sector agencies, and higher-education institutes. An integrated nerve centre is a simple and flexible concept with multiple disciplines that are designed to adapt to rapidly changing conditions. There are four main actions taken by this centre:

Discover – Analyze the situation and the changes taking place by integrating external factors such as the economy and politics. Obtain opinions and information from senior leaders, students, faculty, parents, and all other stakeholders.

Decide quickly what has to be done, while adhering to university values. In crisis situations, don’t wait until the facts come in. Good now is better than perfect later.

Design a variety of actions that minimize false optimism, maximize speed and provide a realistic operating model. Timelines and budgets should be changed according to circumstances. 

Deliver solutions in an efficient and disciplinary manner. Remain flexible, small failures can result in huge losses.

How classes are resuming

At present, the main focus for the higher education industry is how and when they can begin the Fall 2020 semester. Each school has its own way of re-opening their campus, these methods can normally be divided into three main categories.

In-person instruction with social distancing: many campuses are planning to reopen lectures with social distancing measures in place for the health and safety of students and faculty.

Limiting students or operating a hybrid model: this is where a mix of in-person and online learning is facilitated – a limited number of students come to campus for lectures while others partake in online classes. 

Online-only learning: some universities have resorted to online-only courses for the fall 2020 semester. 

Adapting to online learning

Online learning now plays a major role in the higher education industry. There are concerns about the quality of education that universities can provide when remotely. Previously, studies have shown that students who struggle academically can have major negative consequences with online learning. Research has also shown that 20% of college students are unable to access effective technology to foster an online learning environment. To deal with these challenges, colleges are willing to help students who lack access to the internet, laptops, mobile phones and so on.

The transition to online learning will also incur charges in the grading systems to accommodate students who struggle with the changes. 

Several schools are planning to change the standard letter or GPA grading system to ‘pass or fail’ grading style. However, while this change will be helpful in the short term, complications will arise for students wishing to transfer credits.

Will distance learning replace university enrolment?

Some argue that if online courses keep improving, students will not want to move abroad for studies. If an online degree can be obtained for a fraction of the fees as compared to going to a particular country to study, why not obtain the online degree? This is indeed a threat that has to be taken seriously, as it could also mean that the full campus experience may only become a privilege for wealthy families.

On the other hand, many say that the higher education market has been highly misunderstood by the tech industry. According to experts, online learning is a feasible option for those who want access to the course content and the credits of learning the course in the most convenient possible way. For this reason, the online learning market is growing, particularly for working professionals who are looking to further update their skills, but there will always be those who are interested in an on-campus experience.

Normally, for the younger generation, university life is about social experience as well. So, although there are major improvements in online education, on-campus classes will remain the preferred option. A long term-shift to distance learning is not foreseeable, experts say. This is because many students are seeking real campus-life, direct contact, sports, cultural events, and so on. 

More of a combined industry will come up victorious in the short term, always shifting one way or another, with online education being the big winner in the long run.

A different approach to higher education

For students who have just finished their high school education and are looking to enrol in universities, those who have become unemployed as a result of the pandemic, and for anyone who wants to learn a new skill and become self-sufficient, online educational platforms such as MeiXter are hugely beneficial. 

MeiXter is a value-adding tool for people to connect, book, market their abilities and have real and meaningful interactions, breaking barriers between those who want to help and learn. 

You don’t have to go through long admission and enrollment procedures, you don’t require to move from your home, and you can use any device with access to the internet. Simply install and sign-up to MeiXter, browse different categories in which others are willing to share their knowledge and book your favourite with your preferred tutor and begin learning!

The app attracts users who want to teach and learn in the most modern way. Anyone who joins can give and receive knowledge, and become part of a worldwide community.

MeiXter is not just another learning app, it is the full package for both tutors and students. 


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